Saturday, October 18, 2014

Bionic eyes and one hell of a love story

When I see a video with a headline like:

Bionic Eye Helps Blind Man See

I think two things:

1. Oh my God, amazing! It's a miracle. A miracle of great personal use to me.

2. Of course, it's probably bullshit.

Being an optimist though, my first response usually wins out, and I press Play because while chances are it's some inflated miracle claim that will just give sad sacks like me false hope, there is a remote chance that it's the real thing, and I'm a hopeful sort of girl.

The video is a clip from Fox News about a totally blind grandfather, Harry Lester, in North Carolina who used the Argus II, a prosthetic retina, and has had some sight restored. I won't attempt to explain how the Argus works -- you can read this if you want to know -- but, right now, it's results are pretty crude. Its users perceive flashes of light, not colors and dimension and shapes and clarity. But here's the amazing thing that makes this bionic eye the real deal -- it doesn't matter how crude the approximation of sight restored. As you'll see from this interview, the fact that Harry Lester won back any light at all is a huge, unimaginable victory for him. The gratitude that pours out of him and his wife, Jerry, is something you just can't be cynical about (trust me, I tried).

The thing that had me crying here, though, wasn't that Harry gets to perceive flashes of light when his grandkids cross the room, where there used to be just darkness. What got me was how much he and his wife love each other. I was sitting on the couch next to David, watching on my laptop with him and I said in my weepy voice: "He got the bionic eye because he wanted to see her blue eyes again."

And David said: "Of course he did. Otherwise, he probably wouldn't have done it. You have to have a reason. You have to have something worth seeing."

It made me terrifically grateful in my own right to think that David would get a bionic eye to see me, even past-my-prime, had-three-kids-and-don't-wear-makeup-and-forget-about-goig-to-the gym saggy, haggard me. And I'd do the same to see him.

Check out this video, shed a tear or two and have your faith in humanity and the power of love re-affirmed. Well worth the minute or two.